Becoming more environmentally conscious and eco-friendly sounds like a great idea, but is it too difficult to completely revamp our current lifestyles to fit the bill?
Contrary to how we might perceive this transition, it can be quite easy to be eco-friendly. Like any change, nobody says you have to go completely waste-free overnight. Nobody is grading your performance of how well you’re adhering to metaphorical “green goals.” This is your own choice to treat yourself and the planet well. Move forward as you best see fit.
Eventually, yes, it’d be great to say everyone hugs trees in their free time, but we already have plenty of responsibilities to take care of and little extra thought to put toward seeing what we could be doing differently. If that’s the case for you, this post is just for you.
You can easily be eco-friendly AND not have to sacrifice how you live. All it takes is a few changes to what we already use. However, these alternatives reduce how much waste you produce each day and add up to make a lasting difference.
Not only are eco-friendly swaps easy, but they are increasingly necessary. Every day each American produces 4.8 pounds of garbage. Even though two-thirds of people say they will have to make major changes in the way they live to reduce the effects of climate change, actually doing so is another story. We still drive our gas-guzzlers. We still don’t think about flipping off the light switch or faucet. We still often opt for heavily packaged products over fresh goods.
Simply put, we need to start somewhere. A minuscule change is still a change toward ensuring we live sustainably and don’t inflict further damage on the planet. We can listen to Al Gore talk all day about the startling statistics surrounding climate change and turn on the news to see all the severe weather taking place. But until we actually apply what we know to how we go about each day, it’s all white noise.
Okay, on with the good stuff: some easy eco-friendly swaps. Keep in mind that each idea will come with an accompanying link to find and purchase the product. As an Amazon Affiliate, I will make a couple cents if you do so. I kindly ask you if you’re interested in anything I discuss, please support my blog by using those links.
1. Reusable straws
Keeping it real, I try to avoid using straws because I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), but I know whenever you step foot in a restaurant, the second you sit down, the waiter is placing a straw on the table. Statistics actually show that straws are one of the most wasteful products out there since every one-time use adds up. It’s uncomfortable at first, but you can say “No, thank you.” Maybe they’ll even be impressed when you whip out your own reusable straw. There are some varieties made of stainless steel, silicone or glass, so that’s personal preference.
2. Shopping tote bags
Somewhere between 500 billion and a trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide each year. Of those, millions end up in the litter stream outside of landfills—estimates range from less than one to three percent of the bags. Plastic bags are also found polluting waterways and ending up in the sea, where they are a menace to marine life. Instead, even grocery stores themselves sell reusable shopping totes, ones that aren’t going to rip on you and you can actually carry.
3. Tumblers for water, coffee or tea
No, I don’t mean the obscure “blogging” website. Not only will you save money not having to purchase expensive beverages from shops or buying bulk cases of water bottles, but you’ll also make a huge difference reducing waste. Making bottles to meet America’s demand for bottled water uses more than 17 million barrels of oil annually, enough to fuel 1.3 million cars for a year. The energy we waste using bottled water would be enough to power 190,000 homes. Crazy, right? You don’t have to splurge on big-name tumblers like Hydroflask or Yeti; there are plenty of options out there to keep drinks at the right temperature that still look funky fresh.
4. Use a classic coffee maker or get a My K-Cup
Back on the coffee train again, but if you have Keurig coffee maker, you’re adding up your carbon footprint with every use. Almost one in three American homes now has a pod-based coffee machine, but those cups aren’t recyclable or biodegradable. Even the inventor of the Keurig never expected the product to go beyond office settings and regrets making it altogether. A little harsh maybe, but that isn’t to say there aren’t options for reducing waste with a Keurig. Keep your classic drip coffee maker if you have one, but if not, I recently switched to adding coffee grounds to a reusable K-Cup every morning. It’s easy to do, and I feel great knowing I’m saving money (that packaging costs plenty!) and helping the planet, one mug at a time. (Just keep in mind what model of Keurig you have when getting the My K-Cup–one size doesn’t fit all.)
5. Hello, thrift shop
I’m giving you the excuse to shop, so do it! But honestly, give old clothes to thrift stores (or sell online through services like Poshmark) and think of buying “new” clothes from a Goodwill or Plato’s Closet. There’s a reason brands like Forever 21 and H&M are inexpensive: cheap labor and fabrics went into making them. And since the clothing isn’t made to last, you’ll be going through it much quicker and piling up waste. Fast fashion is becoming an environmental crisis. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 15.1 million tons of textile waste was generated in 2013, of which 12.8 million tons were discarded. There are plenty of clothes already in the world to go around. If you’re like me and don’t often want to go out to shop, thredUP is a great website for high-quality used clothing, too.
With these tips at your (reusable) disposal, hopefully you can take on an eco-friendly lifestyle with invigorated inspiration. And if you know someone interested in going green, please share this with them! I’m sure they would appreciate it.
Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie